Pinnacles National Park has more than 30 miles of trails that showcase the beauty of the park up close and personal. Hikes range from flat stretches of grasslands to uphill climbs through talus caves onward to the rocky spires that Pinnacles is famous for. If you are new to the park, consult with a Ranger at the Pinnacles Visitor Center, the Bear Gulch Nature Center, or the West Pinnacles Visitor Contact Station. They can provide advice about trails, as well as recommendations for different fitness and experience levels.
Always take plenty of water for each person in your group.
Bring a flashlight if your hike leads through a cave.
Pinnacles Visitor Center to Bear Gulch Day Use Area
2.3 miles one way, 1-1/2 hours
Elevation: 300 feet
Walk along Chalone and Bear creeks from the Pinnacles Visitor Center to the Bear Gulch Day Use Area. Portions of the Bench trail may be accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.
Pinnacles Visitor Center to South Wilderness Trail
6.5 miles round trip, 3 to 4 hours
Elevation: no gain
Follow this unmaintained trail to the park boundary, or simply meander through the magnificent grove of valley oaks. Begin at the campground and follow the Bench trail to the South Wilderness marker. This trail is an excellent choice for bird and other wildlife viewing.
Pinnacles Visitor Center to Balconies Cave
9.4 miles round trip, 4 to 6 hours
Elevation: 300 feet
Hike along sunny Chalone Creek on the Bench and Old Pinnacles trails to Balconies Cave. On the return trip, cross over the cave via the Balconies Cliffs trail for views of the largest rock formations in the park. Flashlight required in the cave.
Moses Spring to Rim Trail Loop
2.2 miles round trip, 1 1⁄2 hours
elevation gain: 500 feet
This loop is a good choice for rock formations, talus caves, and the reservoir on a short hike and also a good choice for children. Bear Gulch Cave is open seasonally. Flashlight required in the cave.
Walk through the heart of the Pinnacles rock formations, particularly along the Steep and Narrow section of the High Peaks trail. Add the Rim and Moses Spring trails to extend the loop to 6.1 miles.
Climb into the High Peaks and descend along the ridge through meadows of grasses and, in the Spring, wildflowers. Return to the Bear Gulch Day Use Area under the shade of sycamore, buckeye, and Oak trees along the Bench and Bear Gulch trails.
This trail offers spectacular views of the High Peaks, whether you hike just a few minutes or the entire trail. Condor Gulch Overlook is only one mile up the trail.
Climb to the highest point in the monument, North Chalone Peak, and be rewarded with views of the surrounding valleys. Continue on an unmaintained trail to South Chalone Peak for a longer hike.
Trails from Old Pinnacles Trailhead
This sunny hike to Balconies Cave also leads to towering rock formations: Machete Ridge and the Balconies Cliffs. Begin at the Old Pinnacles Trailhead. Flashlight required in the cave.
Balconies Cliffs-Cave Loop
2.4 miles round trip, 1 to 1-1/2 hours
Elevation: 100 feet
Easy to Moderate
This trail crosses up and over the Balconies Cave, then descends back down to the Old Pinn trail, which leads back through the cave. Scramble through the talus passages of the Balconies Cave. Wading may be necessary in the winter when precipitation creates flooding. Flashlight required in cave.
Juniper Canyon Loop
4.3 miles round trip, 2 to 3 hours
Elevation: 1,215 feet
This steep trail climbs along switchbacks to the heart of the High Peaks. At the top, circle through the rock formations along the Steep and Narrow section of the High Peaks Trail and begin the descend down on the Tunnel Trail.
North Wilderness Trail Loop
9.3 miles round trip, 5 to 8 hours
This unmaintained trail climbs along the ridgetops and then descends into the Chalone Creek bed, where it is marked by rock cairns. Return along the Old Pinnacles and Balconies Trail.
High Peaks to Balconies Cave Loop
8.4 miles round trip, 4 to 5 hours
Elevation: 1,540 feet
Begin by climbing into the High Peaks, and the rest of the loop is downhill or flat. Return along the Old Pinnacles and Balconies trails, going over or through the cave. Flashlight required in the cave.
Virtual Tour of the Bear Gulch Cave at Cyberhikes